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March, 2020


www.us-tech.com


Page 73


Properly Inspecting Surface Quality to Ensure Adhesion


By Pierce Geary, Marketing Coordinator, BTG Labs M


anufacturing processes that involve bonding, coating, sealing, printing, painting,


laminating, or cleaning need a metric to measure the surface quality of the materials involved. Without such a metric, it is impossible to predict whether the


actionable data about the chemical state of the surface, as it changes at each process step. Many production lines are vulnerable to the ill effects of trying to bond to a surface that is not ideal. This delicate surface to which


manufacturers attempt to bond is also affected by many non-obvious variables that come into play at many points throughout the process and interact with the surface in dis-


Every manufacturing process includes places where the surface chem- istry has an opportunity to change, either intentional- ly or unintentionally... These places are called “critical control points.”


tinct ways. Every manufacturing process


includes places where the surface chemistry has an opportunity to change, either intentionally through established steps, or unintentionally through unnoticed factors. These places are called “critical control points.”


Surface quality must be quanti- fied, tracked and managed at each of


Continued on page 75


Plasma treatment is often used to prime a surface for the acceptance of an adhesive.


adhesion process will be successful or if it is a path to failure. This kind of predictability is a crucial asset to manufacturers. The goal of process control is to instill the utmost confi- dence that every part of production is optimized, efficient, effective, and consistent. By taking a holistic look at the


production process, it can be useful to understand where some trouble- some variables might be overlooked. Assem bly processes that involve adhesive bonds, coatings or any of the dozens of instances of interfacial adhesion that take place on manufac- turing lines in every industry can be understood as adhesion processes. Every production line is a com-


plex network of interdependent steps. If the quality of the material surface is not controlled at any one of these steps, the whole operation is compromised.


Inspecting Surfaces Inspecting the surface of mate-


rials is key to ensuring adhesion. Adhesion relies on a chemically amenable surface being created and maintained throughout the produc- tion process. Adhesion is fundamen- tally a chemical process and occurs at the top three to five layers of the material surface. Whenever an ultrasonic bath,


plasma treatment, manual abrasion, solvent wipe, laser etch, primer application, or other cleaning and treatment steps happen over the course of an adhesion process, partic- ulate is not the only thing being removed, and the typography is not the only thing changing. Those top few molecular layers are being chem- ically altered. Each step changes the surface


from being closer or further from becoming bondable. When discussing a clean surface


or a quality surface of a material going through an adhesion process, it is important to consider the differ- ence between a dust-free surface and a chemically clean one. These are not always the same thing, and many tests are only able to offer informa- tion about a clean surface — in the traditional sense. However, they cannot provide


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